8 Presidential Inauguration Locations to Visit
The inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama was held on Tuesday, January 20, 2009 at the U.S. Capitol. This has been the location for the majority of American presidential inaugurations. There are, however, several other historic settings for these ceremonies that are worth visiting for travelers.
1. Federal Hall National Memorial (New York City)
President George Washington
Federal Hall National Memorial was the location for the first presidential inauguration. It was also the residence of the first federal government instituted under the United States Constitution. The memorial is conveniently situated for travelers looking to explore the Financial District of New York City along with paying respect at Ground Zero.
Federal Hall is open Monday-Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm. The memorial is closed on Federal holidays.
Federal Hall, NYC © rdesai
2. Congress Hall (Philadelphia)
Presidents George Washington and John Adams
Congress Hall was the location of the presidential inaugurations of George Washington (his second) and John Adams. It was also the quarters for the United States Congress from 1790-1800. Located in the Historic District of Philadelphia, this is a must see neighborhood for travelers. Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell Center, and the National Constitution Center are all within a few steps.
The area is open, in general, from Monday-Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm. Most of the buildings are closed on Federal holidays.
Historic Philadelphia © Gennaro Salamone
3. U.S. Capitol (Washington D.C.)
Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Q. Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William H. Harrison, James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
The U.S. Capitol was the setting for the greatest number of presidential inaugurations including the last seven. Barack Obama was the eighth consecutive president to be sworn in here on Tuesday, January 20, 2009 (read more about the Obama Inauguration).
The U.S. Capitol is also the current residence of the United States Congress. The Congress is the legislative body of the United States. It consists of the U.S. Senate (100 members) and the House of Representative (435 members).
Tour hours for the U.S. Capitol run from Monday-Saturday, 8:45pm to 3:30pm. It’s recommended that visitors obtain tour tickets from their local representatives before arriving to Washington D.C. for their visit. E-mail is the easiest way to request tickets. Do note that security measure apply to touring the buildings. Check their website for updates.
U.S. Capitol © Gennaro Salamone
4. The White House (Washington D. C.)
Presidents Rutherford Hayes, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan
The White House was the location for six presidential inaugurations. It is the official residence of the President of the United States. Every president since John Adams has called the dwelling on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue his home.
Visiting The White House is a memorable experience. There are, however, strict guidelines for larger groups. Public tours for groups of 10 or more require passes from a member of Congress up to six months in advance. Self-guided tours, for individuals, are available from Tuesday-Saturday, 7:30am to 12:30pm. The passes are first come, first served. Apply for passes up to a month in advance.
5. Ansley Wilcox Residence (641 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, NY)
President Theodore Roosevelt
The Ansley Wilcox Mansion was the site of Theodore Roosevelt’s first inauguration. It is one of the oldest homes in Buffalo, NY. It has a rich history including its connection to the Patriots’ War of 1837.
The location is currently closed for renovation. The grand re-opening of the National Historic Site is scheduled for Spring 2009. Check their website for details. Their hours, during operation, are from Monday-Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm and Saturday-Sunday, 12:00pm to 5:00pm
6. His Father’s Residence (Plymouth, Vermont)
President Calvin Coolidge
His father, a notary public, swore in Calvin Coolidge at John Coolidge’s house in Plymouth, Vermont. This remains one of the most unique locations for a presidential inauguration. It was the birthplace and childhood residence of Calvin Coolidge. It is a rural setting with a community church, cheese factory, and a one-room schoolhouse, which have all been preserved.
Visiting hours, for the historic site, are daily from 9:30am to 5:00pm. The site was open from May 24 until October 19, 2008. Check their website for this year’s schedule.
7. His Private Residence (123 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY)
President Chester A. Arthur
Chester A. Arthur was one of two presidents who were sworn in at a private residence. The residence is privately owned. Visitors are only permitted to visit the commercial space located on the first floor. The building was designated a National Landmark on January 12, 1965.
Air Force One © Vince Alongi
8. Three Locations For History Lovers
Presidents John Tyler, Andrew Johnson, and Lyndon Johnson
John Tyler, Andrew Johnson, Lyndon Johnson (first inauguration) were sworn in at locations that are no longer preserved or convenient to visit. Johnson was sworn in aboard Air Force One, Love Field (Dallas, Texas)
John Tyler’s inauguration was held at the Brown’s Hotel. It was formerly located at 6th St. & Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington D.C. and Andrew Johnson’s inauguration was held at the Kirkwood Hotel. It was formerly located at 12th St. & Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington D.C.
For additional inauguration history read the U.S. Senate website and about six historic estates of U.S. presidents.
Gennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing a travel article or photograph for publication.